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[610] and the river. They also pass under the south end of Maryland Heights, where a crowded space has been made by blasting the rocks for a very considerable distance. The railroad bridge crosses the river just under the precipice of Maryland Heights, and about fifty yards above it the Yankees had a pontoon bridge for wagons, etc. The railroad bridge was defended by cannon placed on the farther end; the narrow causeway along the river under Elk Ridge, by cannon placed under the precipice and on the road. The river there is near four hundred yards wide. On the west slope of Elk Ridge, the enemy had their heavy guns placed so as to command the approaches along the road and the town on the opposite side, and, I believe, the road coming from the west; and they also swept Bolivar Heights, which defended the approaches to the town from the side between the Shenandoah and the Potomac west and south.

So long as Maryland Heights was occupied by the enemy, Harper's Ferry could never be occupied by us. If we gained possession of the heights, the town was no longer tenable to them.

Pleasant Valley was approached from the east, first by the railroad, turnpike, and canal, at the south end of Blue Ridge. Second, by a road over the ridge, passing Buckettsville, a small town, about a mile or less from the foot of the Blue Ridge over Brownsville Gap, and by another through a gap to the north of the last-named road, known as Crampton's Gap. The two last were about one mile apart. The second road was distant from the one along the south end of the ridge four miles. Thus Crampton's Gap was five miles from the first road along the Potomac.

Passing from the valley, going west, were two roads, one along the south end of Maryland Heights, already mentioned, and another through Solomon's Gap, a slight depression in Elk Ridge, about five miles north of the first. At the south end of Blue Ridge, and just at the commencement of the pass, coming from the east, is the small town of Weverton. About half way between that place and Harper's Ferry, along the turn-pike, is another small place called Sandy Hook. The road from Sandy Hook ran about the middle of the valley, and joined the main road along the foot of the Blue Ridge, two miles from the Potomac. Understanding that there was a road running from the top of Solomon's Gap, along the ridge, to the heights commanding Harper's Ferry, I directed General Kershaw, with his brigade and that of General Barksdale, to proceed along that road and carry the heights, using infantry alone, as the character of the country forbade the use of any other arm. On the twelfth, he proceeded to carry out the order. I then directed a brigade of General Anderson's division--General Wright's — to ascend the Blue Ridge with two pieces of artillery, and, proceeding down to the point overlooking Weverton, to command the approach to the pass there, along the turnpike, railroad, and canal. General Semmes was left opposite the gap; the troops had passed over into the valley (the one next south of Crampton's Gap) with his own and General Mahone's brigade, commanded by Colonel Parham, with orders to send a brigade to the top of Solomon's Gap, to protect the rear of General Kershaw, and also to take precautions to guard the pass over the Blue Ridge. General Cobb's brigade was directed to cross the valley, and, marching along its base, to keep in communication with General Kershaw above and up to his advance, so as to give support if possible, if it was needed, and to serve as a rallying force should any disaster render such necessary.

I then moved down the valley toward the river, with the rest of the command, the inhabitants generally impressing it upon me that Maryland Heights was lined with cannon for a mile and a half. The main force was kept with the advance of General Kershaw, of which I was constantly informed by signal parties stationed on the heights, moving with General Kershaw. General Kershaw soon encountered the skirmishers of the enemy, and drove them before him until darkness put an end to the conflict. General Wright gained his position without opposition, and at sundown General Anderson pushed forward a brigade, (General Pryor's,) as I directed, and took possession of Weverton, and disposed the troops to effectually defend the pass.

The brigades of Generals Armistead and Cobb were moved up, forming a line across the valley from the right, commanding the road from Sandy Hook.

On the thirteenth, General Kershaw, after a very sharp and spirited engagement, through the dense woods, and over a very broken surface, (there being no road from the point where he had ceased operations the night previous,) and across two abatis, (the last quite a formidable work, the east and west side being precipices of thirty or forty feet, and across the ridge were breastworks of heavy logs and large rock,) succeeded in carrying the main ridge, where the enemy had a telegraph station, and by four and a half P. M. we had possession of the entire heights, the enemy going down a road which they had constructed on the side opposite the ferry, invisible to our troops from the valley, and were fired on by our skirmishers as they crossed the pontoon bridge to Harper's Ferry town. The report concerning cannon along the heights proved to be false, as the enemy used but one battery on the heights, and that was placed on the road toward Harper's Ferry, and was withdrawn so soon as the main ridge was carried. The battery of heavy guns placed on the west slope of the mountains, which, during the day, fired frequently on the storming party, and dropped shells into Pleasant Valley, was spiked and abandoned at the same time.

The troops in the valley were then advanced, and General Cobb's brigade occupied Sandy Hook, with but little resistance, the enemy having abandoned the place, with their main force of fifteen hundred men, on the night previous, leaving several hundred new muskets and other stores. The road then from Harper's Ferry, which prevented

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